THE CHRISTIAN MEETING BEING FULLY A MATTER OF SPEAKING
The Christian meeting is fully a matter of speaking. This kind of speaking goes both ways, back and forth. As soon as you come to the meeting, you should open your mouth to speak, sing, praise, give thanks, and pray. This is towards God. On the other hand, you have to speak for God. In this way, God’s grace and riches will enter into others through your speaking. When we speak to God, we are giving ourselves to God. When we speak for God, we are allowing God to give Himself to us. The Christian meeting is nothing but a speaking to God and a speaking for God. Everyone can speak to God, and everyone can speak for God.
GROUP MEETINGS OF MUTUALITY
There are many kinds of Christian meetings. The most important among them are two, the group meeting and the district meeting. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He met with the disciples for three and a half years. Sometimes these meetings were in one person’s home; sometimes they were in another person’s home. Sometimes they were held at the seaside, and sometimes they were held on the mountain. All these meetings were group meetings. The real church life and the service take place in the group meetings. This is the clear revelation of the Bible. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord Jesus says, “For where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst.’’ The gathering together of two or three is surely a group meeting, for the number is obviously not large. Here we see that the meeting is in the Lord’s name only.
By Hebrews 10, we see something more: “And let us consider one another as to how we might incite one another to love and good works, not abandoning our own assembling together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another’’ (vv. 24-25). Here it speaks of considering one another, inciting to love, and exhorting one another. The meeting with one speaking and all the others listening cannot be mutual. According to our experience, to have a meeting with mutuality is not easy if the number is over twenty. Hebrews 10:24-25 is a very good window. It shows us that the main kind of meeting for the early Christians was the group meeting. Verse 25 says: “Not abandoning our own assembling together.’’ The Christian meeting at the apostolic time was a mutual meeting; it was something for the believers themselves. Hence, this kind of meeting could not have been large. Instead, there must have been group meetings.
Formerly, we did not see the group meeting as clearly as we do now. Whether or not a church is a strong one depends on its group meetings; if the group meetings are strong, the church will surely be strong. This is like an army; whether or not an army can fight depends on its training at the basic unit level. If the units are trained properly, the army will fight well.
In Quezon City, Philippines, we have three hundred brothers and sisters attending the Lord’s Day morning meeting. However, the big meeting can only release some general truths; it cannot meet the special needs of the saints, and it cannot solve the problems of the saints. It is also difficult to know the condition of the individual saints or to care for one another mutually in this meeting. Suppose we divide the three hundred brothers and sisters in the church in Quezon City into twenty groups, and have the fifteen or sixteen saints within each group meet at least once a week. There will be no restriction in time, and there can be free talk among themselves. This will bring in the fellowship, and the fellowship will bring in the intercession. Spontaneously, there will be the mutuality.
Perhaps a newly saved one would bring up a question concerning the truth. Everyone should then speak a few simple words according to what he has learned. At the end, a more mature one can say a little more. In this way, within a few minutes the dozen or more brothers and sisters attending the meeting will be able to participate in the teaching of the truth. Everyone will be able to speak for God. Through this speaking, grace and supply will come. Not only will the one that asks the question receive the help, but all the attendants will receive the help also.
When we wrote the Truth Lessons, it was not our intention for all the churches to have another meeting and to teach them in the way of another worship service. Rather, our hope was that the brothers and sisters would read them at home first. As long as anyone reads, he will get something. It is possible that he may come across something that he does not understand. In that case, he should simply read it one more time. If he reads a few more times, he will understand. For those places that he really cannot understand, he can make a note. When he comes to the group meeting, he can bring out that point and have some mutual answering and learning. Those who understand may teach those who do not understand, and at the end the experienced ones can teach more. If we teach the truth in this way, after a year, by the end of fifty-two weeks, we will have heard all kinds of truths, and the church life will be filled with a spirit of learning.
If the new ones ask questions concerning life, the principle is the same. Everyone learns, and everyone teaches. Everyone asks, and everyone answers. This kind of group meeting will be living and rich. There will not be any printed program, form, or regulations. Everyone will follow the spirit, and everyone will exercise their spirit to speak to God, to speak for God, to receive God’s grace, or to transmit God’s grace to others. In this way, there will be fellowship, mutual intercession, exhortations, and mutual care. This is the group meeting.
In these twenty groups, all the three hundred saints in the whole church will be cared for in every way. This is the result of my study of sixty years. I look to the Lord that all the churches in the Philippines would pick up this practice, and that the churches in all the localities would bring the saints on in this new way.
After we have gained some people through door-knocking, immediately we need to go to their homes to nourish them. This nourishing in their homes is the home meeting. At the same time, we have to bring them to the group meetings. In the group meeting, there is the mutual care and perfecting. This will then be the fulfillment of the word concerning the perfecting of the saints in Ephesians 4:12. They will be like the gifted ones, fulfilling the work of the New Testament ministry unto the building up of the Body of Christ. After half a year, these ones will be perfected, and some new ones will be added through the gospel preaching. By that time, another group meeting can be formed. During the second half of the year, the two groups will do exactly the same things: on the one hand, they will preach the gospel to gain new ones; on the other hand, they will nourish the new ones by meeting in their homes. The new ones will also be introduced to the group meetings, where they will be cared for and perfected.
There is one thing that we should take note of: we should not knock on doors too much; otherwise, we will not be able to raise the new ones up. In your hand, you should always have three or four new ones under your care. If some move away, you have to make up the number by preaching the gospel.
EVERYONE PROPHESYING IN THE DISTRICT MEETING
The preaching of the gospel, the home meetings, and the group meetings are all conducted during the week. On the Lord’s Day, we should bring the new ones to the district meetings. A church can be divided into a few districts. The best number for the district meeting is around fifty. When we gain some new ones through the gospel, we should nourish and establish them in the home meetings. We should also care for them and perfect them in the group meetings. In this way, when they come to the church meetings, every one of them will be able to prophesy.
In order for the saints to prophesy, they need to enjoy the Lord’s word every day and be filled with the Lord’s word. Every district can select its own portion of Scripture. Every week the saints can go through one chapter, and they can divide the chapter into six sections. Every morning the saints can read one section and pick out two verses for pray-reading. If we want to have an overcoming church life, we need to live this life of morning revival. For this reason, we must help the brothers and sisters to live this life of revival and overcoming every day. Every morning we need to have some enjoyment, and every morning we need to soak ourselves in the Lord’s word and be filled and saturated by the Lord’s word. After six days, we will surely have a rich reaping. By the weekend, we can compile our inspirations into a composition for prophesying. On the Lord’s Day, we can bring this composition to the meeting. We should not read or recite it, but should speak out with our spirit what we have prepared. This is to prophesy.
In a meeting with fifty saints, at least half of them should be prepared beforehand. Everyone should be limited to three minutes of speaking, and everyone should take turns speaking. There should not be any prearranged order, but the speaking should be done in a spontaneous way. This kind of speaking in the district meeting will be very rich. We can prophesy this way week after week for fifty-two weeks in a year. The supply of the Lord’s word will then be rich among us. When everyone is supplied and edified, the problems and difficulties of the saints will be solved spontaneously through the supply of the rich word, and the church will be built up. This is the way that the Lord has shown us today.
The Lord’s recovery today is the recovery of the saints in the building up of the Body of Christ. For this reason, there is the need for every saint to be able to prophesy, so that the church can be built up in a genuine way. First Corinthians 14:31 says that we can all prophesy one by one. Verses 24 and 25 say that if we all prophesy, and if an unbeliever or one unlearned comes, he will be convicted by all and will be judged by all. The secrets of his heart will become manifest, and he will admit that God is really among us. Hence, for everyone to prophesy unto the building up of the Body of Christ is the proper way revealed in the Scriptures. Thank and praise the Lord! I hope that the Lord would bless all the churches in the Philippines according to this new way.
(A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Quezon City, Philippines, on March 26, 1989)
(The Riches and Fullness of Christ and the Advanced Recovery of the Lord Today, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)